LEGO IDEAS Steamboat Willie 21317
The LEGO ideas Steamboat Willie became a highly anticipated set ever since LEGO announced it. As a nod to the original 1928 cartoon, this set is entirely decorated with monochrome pieces. I honestly thought this was an April Fool’s day joke because it was released on April 1st and had an unbelievable color scheme of black and white. Long story short, I was proven wrong. I’m so glad LEGO finally made a set that truly stands out above the rest. Usually, they make colorful sets appealing to children; however, this time, they tried something new, and I hope LEGO makes more black and white sets in the future. I think 1-2 per year would hit the sweet spot.
If you are a LEGO enthusiast, you probably already noticed that this set is small for 751 pieces; however, this doesn’t bother me because of its fantastic play feature. When you push the boat forward, the two paddle wheels on both sides will spin extremely fast; the two steam exhausts on the top will have an up and down motion. One thing I want to mention is that one of the steam exhausts can get stiff very easily just by pushing on some parts of the boat while playing with it. If you drive the boat fast, this can become a problem; the steam exhausts will probably get stuck at the top. However, in day to day play, this shouldn’t be a problem.
This play feature is done with the help of hidden wheels at the bottom. I’m so glad that the guts of the boat are colorful because while building any LEGO set, finding an unusual piece in a mountain of bricks is always easier than looking for one that doesn’t stand out. The mechanism is incredible; it utilizes clever Technic techniques, and the whole arrangement is very similar to an internal combustion engine. I believe that this will serve as an inspiration to MOC (My Own Creation) makers like myself and it will improve the overall knowledge of building techniques. Please watch the review posted here. The explanation of the mechanism starts at 0:51.
Let’s carefully examine the bow (front) of the boat. At first glance, there isn’t anything too special there other than a beautiful flag. However, if you take a closer look at the floor of the bow, you will notice that LEGO designers chose to use smaller flat elements as opposed to the large ones. Because designers know that all LEGO elements have visible lines when put together, they decided to exploit this property by adding smaller parts to make the floor look like it’s made up of tiles. I love seeing such clever building techniques used in LEGO sets. Moreover, there is a beautiful black and white parrot on the bow. It uses the same mold as featured with a colorful bird from the LEGO Friends Olivia’s Tree House 3065 set. Also, there are a couple of boring windows, and there is an inaccessible door at the bow. It is only when we look at the top of the boat when things start to become interesting. I love the overall shape of the captain’s room; the helm is spot on. LEGO also decided to incorporate a small hidden bell on the inside just as icing on the cake. I love it because I’m a huge fan of little hidden things. Fun fact, if you look from a bird’s eye perspective at these exhausts behind the helm, you will see colors. It doesn’t bother me much, but if you have a desire for everything to be perfect, then please consider this factor if you want to buy this set.
Now we have finally made it to the stern (back) of the boat. I like how it’s messy in just the right way. You can see boxes, tools, a bucket, and studs on the bottom to give it a destroyed look. Moreover, I love the adjustable crane with its cargo of potatoes. I honestly think this is the best small attached crane we have ever seen in a LEGO set. It’s very minimalistic, and it uses only Technic elements. Technic is a great theme is extraordinary pieces because it is one of the best ways to learn mechanical engineering. Moreover, there is a little quirk with the stern. You get a rudder on the back which can’t move side to side like it’s supposed to. Ironically, it goes up and down, which is something that bothers me.
Finally, on each side, two printed elements are saying “S. S. Willie” and the year “1928”. This is to pay respect to the historical year of Disney because they released the Steamboat Willie cartoon and it was the first cartoon to use sound. This is the first time a black and white LEGO set was ever released, so it will have its place in LEGO history. Another thing featured in this set is a mickey mouse rounded square with a printed 1928 element. It can stand up on a desk so that you can present it at work or home as a symbol of possession of this set. Before I conclude this review, I’m going to go over the two minifigures included in this set.
First up is Minnie. I believe her head uses the same mold as Minnie and Mickey from the original Disney CMF lineup. On top of her head, she presents a cute hat. I love it, and the flower has five petals. Five is one of the best numbers. Her torso has nothing special, but she is holding a black and white guitar. I think that when both the collectible minifigures and this set are discontinued, this set will rise in price on eBay just because of black and white pieces like the guitar. Minnie also features a silver skirt. I appreciate that the designers chose to give it a silver finish because black and white on its own it's pretty dull. This would be an impressive piece to use for a female robot minifigure. Her leg printing is also cool.
The second minifigure is Mickey. All of his pieces are very simple except for his legs, which feature a silver finish and just a very appealing design. In his hands, he is also holding a Turkey in the Straw music sheet with notes. I think this piece is going to get valued by MOC makers because of the amount of uses it has. I mean, if you want to build your own piano, this piece should definitely be utilized.
My verdict is that you should definitely buy this set is you are a LEGO enthusiast looking to build something different. People usually complain about the price of this set at $89.99 for only 751 pieces; however, it’s worth it. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed with the play feature and its monochrome exterior. It’s one of those rare sets that sets a new standard for upcoming LEGO sets.